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What misconceptions do people have about management roles?

People don't often understand what they're getting into by taking on a management role. The higher up your position in the company is, the more time you spend on relationship management. All you do is communicate and socialize either why IT screwed up and what you're doing so it'll never happen again, why you need the money, or the status of this thing that's cost us a lot of money already. There are a lot of people with technical backgrounds who think being a manager is great because it’s all about bossing other people around and being the fount of wisdom about what should happen in the future. But in reality, that's not part of your job anymore as a manager. Sometimes you have people with strong technical backgrounds who are somewhat introverted. They hang back because they would prefer to spend all day looking at a PowerPoint prepared by their team, rather than casually stopping by the CEO's office and chatting them up about what another company is doing. A lot of CIOs only talk to other C-suite people by appointment. But when the sales folks come back from the field, they can just saunter into the CEO's office and say, "I was in Minneapolis last week, let me tell you about this prospect," or, "You know that favorite customer that we have on the website? Talk to them directly because they don't think we're doing the right thing." I worked for Visa before they became a public company, when they were still mutually-owned by a consortium of banks. We had six global divisions and when they wanted to update the transaction authorization system, it was my job to get all six regions to agree on what we were going to do. The writing was an important aspect, because I had to document what people said they could agree to. But the technical part of that job was probably less than 10%.

Anonymous Author
People don't often understand what they're getting into by taking on a management role. The higher up your position in the company is, the more time you spend on relationship management. All you do is communicate and socialize either why IT screwed up and what you're doing so it'll never happen again, why you need the money, or the status of this thing that's cost us a lot of money already. There are a lot of people with technical backgrounds who think being a manager is great because it’s all about bossing other people around and being the fount of wisdom about what should happen in the future. But in reality, that's not part of your job anymore as a manager. Sometimes you have people with strong technical backgrounds who are somewhat introverted. They hang back because they would prefer to spend all day looking at a PowerPoint prepared by their team, rather than casually stopping by the CEO's office and chatting them up about what another company is doing. A lot of CIOs only talk to other C-suite people by appointment. But when the sales folks come back from the field, they can just saunter into the CEO's office and say, "I was in Minneapolis last week, let me tell you about this prospect," or, "You know that favorite customer that we have on the website? Talk to them directly because they don't think we're doing the right thing." I worked for Visa before they became a public company, when they were still mutually-owned by a consortium of banks. We had six global divisions and when they wanted to update the transaction authorization system, it was my job to get all six regions to agree on what we were going to do. The writing was an important aspect, because I had to document what people said they could agree to. But the technical part of that job was probably less than 10%.
3 upvotes
Anonymous Author
One mistake I've seen is when the best technical or most senior technical member in a team is being promoted to manager position of the team without assessing if he/she has what it takes to lead/manage a team and more importantly if that person want's that role.  Many organizations have a mindset that when someone reaches the most senior technical position he/she should progress to manager or when a manager position get open it should be offered to be most senior technical person in the team. Also many technical persons when progress from junior position to the most senior technical role assume the next step is management as there are no other more senior positions available. They say, I am great as senior engineer or senior architect so my next step in the career must be manager of engineering or manager of software architecture for example, without really understanding what they are getting into. I think organizations are to blame partially here, some just promote this culture, they will just promote/offer the position to someone without explaining what it takes or taking an assessment of the people's capabilities of that person.  There is nothing wrong with offering the manager position to a senior technical person, but a better approach in my opinion is to explain what are the expectations of any management position. There should be an internal education system in the organizations that teaches the basics for management to aspiring managers so if someone is interested they can enroll, get familiar with it and think if that is what they want to do.  Management to a large degree is a skill that can be learned but the important thing is if one have desire to do that. As any new skill, it requires time and effort to be learned and mastered, and here is the tricky part, if you are already a great software engineer and you've mastered the skills for that position and you are comfortable doing it, are you willing to be a beginner in management, make mistakes and learn the art of it. Many are just not willing and when they realize this they ask for demotion as they are way more comfortable in only being responsible for their own work vs the work and quality of the whole team.  I think in many cases this could be avoided if there is a proper communication, explanation of the expectations, internal training and management/leadership courses. Don't get me wrong, there are many examples where the best technical person becomes an even better manager/leader, and it is my personal opinion that the best technical managers are the one that have deep technical knowledge,  but the important thing to understand is that if you are great with technology or great developer that does not automatically makes you great with people, managing, delegating, empowering etc. 
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